Tag Archives: Marcus Antonsson

Mixed Start to the Season for Leeds as Defensive Woes Cost Dear – by Rob Atkinson

Antonsson

Whichever way you look at it – and there are a few differing options – Leeds United‘s season has started rather worryingly. A lack of truly meaningful match practice pre-season, combined with the loss of midfield starlet Lewis Cook, saw the Whites starting the campaign with huge question marks looming over their prospects for success.

True, some real promise has been recruited, in particular the exciting potential of former Oxford hotshot Kemar Roofe. But the sale of Cook to AFC Bournemouth leaves a gap that has not yet been filled. In defence, too, things look less than settled. Kyle Bartley has been recruited from manager Garry Monk’s old club Swansea, but Sol Bamba remains club captain despite some deeply ordinary form. And another young star in left-back Charlie Taylor has apparently expressed a desire to leave. It’s really difficult to describe the net effect of Leeds’ transfer business (so far) as positive.

And then, when the talking had to stop and the football began for real, came a performance at QPR in the season opener that was by turns pallid and chaotic. Comical defending cost United a goal after just four minutes, and it was largely downhill from there. By the time Tjaronn Chery cracked home the Rangers clincher from an acute angle in the closing stages, Leeds were a very well-beaten team.

On the optimistic side, all three of the Championship’s supposed big guns lost away from home on that opening day. Newcastle and Aston Villa joined Leeds in defeat, and likewise failed to trouble the scorers. But the Toon and the Villans were both edged out only 0-1; a rather better showing than United’s 0-3 tonking at Loftus Road.

Still, as things stand, we’ve only lost once all season and we’re just three points off the top. In spite of what the readers of this blog might think from some of the stuff I write, it is important to take a glass half-full view as a Leeds fan, knowing as we do that only relentless optimism is likely to save us from despair. And, still looking on that bright side, even after losing first time up – perhaps we could now make early progress in the EFL Cup on Wednesday at Fleetwood, and banish the memories of the thrashing QPR had handed out. That would be quite sweet, actually, particularly as ALL of Yorkshire’s other sides had surrendered meekly the night before, going out of the Cup along with several high-profile Championship casualties.

In the event, Leeds did manage to progress as Yorkshire’s sole representatives. It has to be said, though, they were more than a little fortunate against a Fleetwood side that was a goal to the good early on, and held that advantage until the last minute of normal time. But then new signing Marcus Antonsson, a Swedish striker of whom much is expected, produced a brilliant turn and shot to level for Leeds at the last gasp. And it was substitute Antonsson who was then fouled in the box early in extra time to give the hitherto ineffective Chris Wood the chance to make it 2-1 from the spot. It remained only for Leeds to chuck away their hard-won advantage in typical fashion, allowing time and room for Fleetwood to fashion an equaliser – and we were facing the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

So it came to pass that veteran ‘keeper Rob Green, at fault for the first goal against QPR the previous weekend, went from zero to become the campaign’s first Leeds hero. After United had scored all of their penalties, Green produced a smart save off Fleetwood’s fifth and final spot kick – and Leeds were narrowly, edgily, through to the second round. Pride of Yorkshire? Most definitely!

Now we will meet Luton Town of League Two, 3-1 conquerors of once-mighty Aston Villa, at Kenilworth Road in Round Two. It’s a tie that will quite likely be televised and a very definite potential banana skin for Yorkshire’s most famous club. But if Leeds can negotiate that hurdle, and perhaps pick up a bit over the next few Championship matches, it may well be that we’ll look back on that Rob Green penalty shoot-out save and realise it was an early-season turning point.

Things can only get better, so they say. It’s a dangerous line to take where Leeds are concerned; they always seem to find new depths to plumb. But you never know. Maybe, after a slow start, and with a few more quality signings, we can pick up and embark on a successful season of real achievement. Maybe, even, we’ll beat the Blues tomorrow. Stranger things have happened, after all. Just ask Leicester City…

Advertisements

Will Marcus Antonsson, Leeds’ New Scandinavian, Be a Bakke? Or a Brolin?   –   by Rob Atkinson


Scandinavia is quite a productive marketplace for players of reasonable quality at competitive prices and, as such, it is a market that Leeds United has dipped into from time to time, usually with a fair degree of success. The Yorkshire Evening Post has marked the occasion of United’s acquisition of their latest “Skandy” import, Marcus Antonsson, by running a poll to see which of seven predecessors should be regarded as best value. Eirik Bakke is looking a strong favourite at the moment, with the prematurely tubby Tomas Brolin predictably trailing in a poor seventh and last place.

In between those two extremes are several others of whom Leeds fans will have more or less fond memories. Alf Inge Haaland, by common consent, served United well in the three years leading up to the Millennium. He was an effective midfielder with a knack for popping up with useful goals here and there – and he seemed to “get” Leeds United in a way that certain players do, establishing thereby a distinct rapport with the Elland Road crowd. His role in the self-inflicted injury of Roy Keane, who comically did a cruciate in a vain attempt to foul Alf, is still talked of today in tones of distinct approval. The only real blot on Alfi’s copybook was a belter of a goal he scored at the Gelderd End – sadly, for Man City on his first return after leaving United.

Among others, Kasper Schmeichel did OK in goal for Leeds, managing to some extent to live down the unfortunate fact of his parentage. Leeds fans still ask why, oh why was he transferred – but Kasper’s determination to run his United contract down made selling him for a million a real no-brainer. Gunnar Halle is fondly remembered for his attitude and commitment, and Casper Sloth is still awaiting the verdict of a jury that has been out for virtually his whole time at Leeds so far.

The Tomas Brolin era at Elland Road started with high expectations – but it was all downhill from there. With his one real bright spot being a fine performance in a Christmas Eve 3-1 tonking of manchester united, when he set up the killer goal for Brian Deane, some remember him even better for a comedy moment at Selhirst Park. Playing for Crystal Palace against United, he sustained a head injury and had to go off to be bandaged. During his absence, Leeds scored and Brolin copped some good-humoured but intense stick when he reappeared, his head swathed in about half a mile of white medical dressing, like some sort of fabric motorcycle helmet. Sadly for the unfortunate Tomas, this head-dress almost literally exploded when the ball struck him fair and square in the skull, leading to a peak of hilarity among the away support. He may not have been revered at Elland Road, but for that comedy moment as well as his part in the humbling of the Pride of Devon, he is unlikely to be soon forgotten.

EIRIK BAKKE LEEDS UNITED 1999/2000

So, we welcome our latest Scandinavian recruit – and we must simply hope that he turns out to be more Bakke than Brolin. The advance publicity is promising, with the additional plus point that this appears to be a Garry Monk signing, not another of Cellino’s cock-ups. Antonsson was in demand elsewhere and has an impressive recent CV, after a prolific spell of late. All Leeds fans will wish him well, with the earnest hope that he will be followed into the LS11 area by other signings of equal or even greater quality.

Welcome Marcus – you’ve joined what is still a great club. All the best in helping restore us to our rightful elite position in the game.